Europe has moved ahead with its emergence from coronavirus lockdown and laid out plans for summer tourism, but the pandemic gathered pace elsewhere.

Britain followed France, Italy and Spain in easing its lockdown but only in England, where people were given more freedom to leave their homes and return to their jobs if they cannot work remotely.

Austria said its borders with Germany would reopen from mid-June and Berlin said it aimed to end virus checks at its land borders in about a month.

Desperate to save millions of tourism jobs, the European Union set out plans for a phased restart of travel this summer, with EU border controls eventually lifted and measures to minimise the risks of infection, like wearing face masks on shared transport.

"Today's guidance can be the chance of a better season for the many Europeans whose livelihood depends on tourism and, of course, for those who would like to travel this summer," EU Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager told reporters.


Reopening the EU for summer is 'a very tall order'


But with the global death toll from the coronavirus exceeding 292,000, the picture was grim in other parts of the world.

Russia, now the country with the second-highest number of virus cases, recorded more than 10,000 new infections after authorities this week eased restrictions to allow some people back to work.

Brazil registered its highest virus death toll in a single day, with 881 new fatalities bringing the total to 12,400, and the country was emerging as a new global hotspot despite President Jair Bolsonaro dismissing the pandemic as a "little flu".

A crowded street amid the Covid-19 pandemic in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina state, Brazil,

Fears were growing of a second wave of infections in China, with the northeastern city of Jilin put in partial lockdown and Wuhan, where the virus was first reported last year, planning to test its entire population after clusters of new cases.

And the United States, which has confirmed more than 1.36 million cases, saw a sharp rise in fatalities, with 1,894 new deaths reported yesterday after daily tolls fell below 1,000. 

The country's top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci issued a stark warning about the dangers of resuming normal life too soon, saying a run of 14 days with falling cases was a vital first step.

"If a community or a state or region doesn't go by those guidelines and reopens... the consequences could be really serious," he said.

"There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control."

Mr Fauci said the true number killed by the epidemic in the US is likely greater than the official toll of over 82,000 - the world's highest.

Dr Anthony Fauci

Facing a reelection campaign later this year, President Donald Trump is pressing for rapid steps to get the US economy moving again, despite warnings from health officials. 

Washington has increasingly blamed China for the global outbreak and today authorities warned healthcare and scientific researchers that Chinese-backed hackers were attempting to steal research and intellectual property related to treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus.

"China's efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation's response to COVID-19," a statement from the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said.

Countries around the world are grappling with how to reopen businesses after the pandemic forced half of the planet into some form of lockdown and ground the global economy to a near-halt.

Dire economic data from March and April have pointed to the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s after millions of people were out of work.

Figures from Britain showed its economy shrinking by 2% in January-March, its fastest slump since 2008 and with a far worse contraction to come. 

The Bank of England last week warned that the economic paralysis could lead to Britain's worst recession in centuries, with output forecast to crash 14% this year.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said shutdowns in the United States would do "lasting damage" but "the economy should substantially recover once the virus is under control".

He said crisis measures, including spending beyond the nearly $3 trillion already approved in the United States, would be crucial to ensuring a strong recovery.

Health experts have warned of the potentially devastating consequences as the virus spreads through the developing world, where healthcare systems are under-funded and isolation regimes are often not possible.

In northern Nigeria, surging death tolls have sparked fears that the virus is spreading, with a team of government investigators saying hundreds of deaths were suspected to be linked to the pandemic. 

Making the problem worse, hospitals have shut their doors to the sick out of fears over the virus - meaning treatment for a raft of ailments has stopped. 

But there were stories of hope amid the gloom, including two centenarians who survived the virus.

In Spain, 113-year-old Maria Branyas fought off the illness during weeks of isolation at a retirement home where several other residents died from the disease.

And in Russia, 100-year-old Pelageya Poyarkova was discharged from a Moscow hospital after having recovered. 

Russian television showed Ms Poyarkova wearing a face mask and clutching a bouquet of red roses as she exited in a wheelchair, surrounded by doctors and journalists.

"She turned out to be a tough old lady," the hospital's acting director said.